Healthy Wisconsin – Model Policy and Advocacy
Senior Health Care Policy Specialist
The following summary report was sent to participants of a nationwide conference call
providing details on the Healthy Wisconsin initiative. The call was held in August 2007
and was sponsored by the Progressive States Network, Families USA, and the Universal
Health Care Action Network.
Healthy Wisconsin - Model Policy and Advocacy
As State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-WI), and Robert Kraig, from Citizen Action of
Wisconsin, explained during the call, the campaign for comprehensive health care
reform in the state began several years ago. Some highlights, include:
1. Advocates, including the Wisconsin AFL-CIO1, held over 150 public forums
across the state as early as 2000 to engage the public and stakeholders and
build grassroots support for health care reform.
2. In 2005, legislation requiring the legislature to enact comprehensive reform by
2008 failed. The bill was SB 4162.
3. Using the conservative legislature's failure to pass SB 416 or otherwise act on
health care reform, advocates mobilized and put the following referendum
question on 11 county ballots in the 2006 election:
"Should the Wisconsin Legislature pass a bill that will reduce
health care costs by at least 15% and adopt a long term plan to
assure access to universal, affordable health care coverage for all
Wisconsin individuals and families by 2008?"
This ballot question was advanced through a resolution 3 adopted
by the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors.
4. The referenda passed by huge majorities. In Eau Claire County, it passed with
83% of the vote, which a staff editorial 4 in the Eau Claire Leader Telegram said
gave lawmakers a clear mandate to work towards universal coverage.
Observers also believe the existence of the 11 referenda on the
2006 ballot, which helped to expose the legislatures failure to act,
helped lead to a new Democratic majority in the State Senate and
a smaller Republican majority in the House.
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5. Legislators and advocates developed the Healthy Wisconsin plan5 and the State
Senate passed it6 as part of the State budget in June. Although Healthy
Wisconsin's prospects in the House are uncertain, including the plan in the
Senate's budget ensures a high profile debate on the need for progressive health
6. Families USA issued a report 7 showing that Healthy Wisconsin would generate
13,000 new jobs and over $1 billion in economic growth in the state. This report
was covered by local news media and helped counter attacks from opponents to
7. If Healthy Wisconsin is not included in the final budget, advocates will still fight
for it as separate legislation and use the issue again during the 2008 elections.
Wisconsin State Contacts/Resources:
State Sen. Jon Erpenbach
Citizen Action of Wisconsin - Healthy Wisconsin Resource Center
Wisconsin State AFL-CIO - Healthy Wisconsin, Your Choice, Your Plan
Universal Health Care Action Network - www.uhcan.org
Families USA - www.familiesusa.org
o Wisconsin page
Progressive States Network - www.progressivestates.org
o Stateside Dispatch: Nation's Most Comprehensive Health Plan Approved
in Wisconsin Senate